More Experimenting with Flipboard Magazines and Other Tools

Since I began playing around with Flipboard‘s magazine features, I have grown curious to see how the development takes shape. It is clear that it is missing features that would be advantageous. As cool as it can be, it is definitely limited in functionality and a little bit more closed than I would like. Based on how quickly the browser based, web version of magazines appeared after their rollout, I am guessing that new features should be added before too long. At least I am hopeful.

One issue that for me has to do with the commenting feature. When flipping an item while reading on the iPad, a space for comments appears when determining which magazine will receive the additional content. However, it is unclear to me where the comments actually go. It seems more likely to appear if the item is flipped using a web browser, but that didn’t seem to work consistently. I had a difficult time trying to replicate comment visibility. At one point, I had an added item to the magazine, which appeared as a block with a portion of the comment quoted in a large font that served as a link to opening the article’s original URL in a new tab. It was not terribly attractive and kind of defeated the part of the reason for using the magazine, its slick interface.

So I suddenly had the beginnings of a mildly interesting problem. How can I add some short bits of commentary to the articles that I continue to add to Flipboard magazine, with its new, slick interface, adding content to my blog in the process.

Considering, how much online reading I do, I thought I would try to leverage some of it in a more creative and productive way. This was in part what compelled me to begin curating content using Flipboard’s magazine. I have always curated content but not necessarily in the most public way nor with the smoothest workflow. Nevertheless, as the new school year starts, I wanted to try and make more of an effort to share some thoughts and practice, as well as look for ways to leverage what I already do in a more efficient way.

Plus, I have always liked what Stephen Downes has done using his gRSShopper system for generating his daily and weekly newsletters. I have long subscribed to his newsletters. However, I have never quite harnessed enough effort or time to actually try installing and using gRSShopper on my own.

As a result, I dusted off my ancient and unused Tumblr site.

Honestly, I have always struggled with how best to use some of the micro-blog sites, like the late Posterous and Tumblr, that fill the space in-between status updates and conventional blogging. I have had accounts for experimenting and such but don’t always make great use of them. Also, I have also struggled to write regularly enough for any blog, despite the desire to keep this one fresh.

Tumblr has grown more flexible in making it relatively easy to share snippets of the web, a quote, and image, a link, with a greater flexibility and space than Twitter, which I also use but not as regularly.  Thus, it seemed natural to marry it with the content I started collecting in Flipboard. They also iterate with one another, although not perhaps as smoothly as I would like. Still, Tumblr could easily store comments about the articles I flipped.

The trouble is that there are only so many places people will follow. It can get exhausting tracking individuals across the ever widening web landscape. So I wanted to use this blog as a kind of hub.

Enter IFTTT, a site that lets anyone automate certain connections between web services. Of course, it would have been a lot easier if Flipboard worked with IFTTT, but this is where using Tumblr, which plays nice with Flipboard, really became the crossover tool of choice. Now, I had a functional use for my long dormant Tumblr account. It now feeds this blog with a stream of readings and reactions, that more or less mirrors my Flipboard magazine Teaching Today, making that curated content available in a slightly different manner, complete with commentary.

I suspect what is added here on the blog may even extend beyond the magazine, which I am trying to keep more focused on social and political issues impacting teaching in public schools. Regardless, It is another small experiment that I thought worth trying and sharing. Considering Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr, this could all be irrelevant in a few months, should they doom Tumblr to the Internet graveyard, but it works for now.

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